The Arkansas River Tailwater is an excellent tailwater that has grown in popularity over the last 10 years.  Best as a winter fishery, it is heavily stocked with rainbows each year and provides anglers a chance to catch a lot of small fish (8-14”) with opportunities throughout the river to catch some sizeable fish as well.  Though it fishes well as a nymph fishery, the biggest pull of this river is your opportunity to fish dry flies during the winter months.  Strong Midge and Blue Wing Olive Mayfly hatches occur throughout the winter and being in Pueblo, the river sees warmer water days than most during the winter months making this both a place to beat out the cold and find some great fish.

Tips on Fishing the “P-Lo”

Though you can fish this river year round (except during run off) it is best fished during the winter months. Flows drop to a consistent 150 cfs and the fish really settle into a stride. Here are a few tips to make the most of your trip on the Arkansas Tailwater aka P-Lo.

  • Fish Small Dries – Yes you get to fish dries during the winter, that doesn’t mean to bring your hoppers and mouse patterns. Sizes #18 are as big as they get and it’s best to focus on BWO and Midge patterns that are sizes #22-#26. Using a small strike indicator or a larger fly in front to help detect your small fly will help a lot, but leave plenty of room in between your flies to help the small fly float naturally. It’s not uncommon with the right sized fly to have a 50 fish day on the Ark when the dries are coming off.
  • Explore the River – If the fish aren’t working in a stretch, don’t sit there, move and fish a new hole, or a different type of water, or a different section all together. There are many miles of fishable river and though the biggest fish seem to hang out closer to the dam, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some nice fish (and often less pressured) down even into town.

If you want to check out more great tailwaters, here’s a great article on the best tailwaters for Colorado by the Fly Crate